Satellite Aided Flood Forecasts

street signThe collaboration of inter agencies, in particular the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), have resulted into developing a new system of forecasting floods.

By combining elements of weather forecasts, satellite observations, river gauges, and hydrologic modeling techniques, the system can predict when major rivers would start to swell providing relatively advanced warnings for people that would likely be affected by the rising waters.

The forecasting system has been operational for the past few years. The scientists at the NCAR have been providing flood forecasts to countries that really need them. Bangladesh, for example has been receiving flood forecasts since 2003.

But it was only recently that flood forecasts in Bangladesh made major progress. The forecasts were properly utilized thanks to the efforts of local volunteers, government personnel, and non government organizations who disseminated the information on the community level. Thus, the forecasts from the NCAR finally were able to reach the target communities allowing proper actions to be taken.

Previous flood warnings in Bangladesh come within 48 to 72 hours before floodwaters begin to put most of the region under floodwater. Today, the ADPC through the help of satellite imaging and advance weather forecasting from NCAR and other related agencies are able to issue 10-day flood forecasts. This gives the million residents of Bangladesh ample time to leave their homes and relocate to higher grounds.

This also gives support groups and local organizations to come up with the sufficient supply of food and water that would be needed once the actual floods come in and relocations areas become full with affected residents.

The cornerstone of the flood forecasting system is the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) of NASA. Since its establishment in 1959, the center was vital in space and Earth science studies.

With the help of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, the GSFC is able to create satellite images and set them against weather forecasts. Part of their resource also include weather predictions for South Asia the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Also vital in the flood forecasting system are tools both on the ground and on the base of operations. Tools like measures the water levels, radar network, equipment that measures amount of rainfall, and the computer hardware and software that plots possible speed and direction of flood or river waters.

The information gathered by the whole system is updated regularly with emphasis given to fresh information both from the grounds and satellite data imaging. This ensure that forecasts remain factual and as accurate as possible.

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